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Gardener sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his employer

38-year-old Nicholas Magagula has been sentenced to one life term and 15 years direct imprisonment for the murder of her employer, Liesl Nel (41) in 2018. File Picture

38-year-old Nicholas Magagula has been sentenced to one life term and 15 years direct imprisonment for the murder of her employer, Liesl Nel (41) in 2018. File Picture

Published May 25, 2022

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Pretoria - The Nelspruit Regional Court has convicted and sentenced 38-year-old Nicholas Magagula to one life term and 15 years direct imprisonment for the murder of his employer, Liesl Nel (41).

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Mpumalanga regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said on February 16, 2018, Magagula was on duty as he was working as a gardener at Nel’s house on Uitkyk Road in Nelspruit.

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“He got inside the deceased’s house and strangled her to death, and then got inside the deceased’s motor vehicle, switched it on, and tried to drive it. He took the deceased’s red bag and fled the scene with the deceased’s cellphone and laptop,” Nyuswa said.

Nel was found dead in the drain the following morning. Magagula was subsequently arrested as a suspect.

“In court, he pleaded not guilty, and State prosecutor Simon Mamabolo led evidence of an eyewitness who testified from what he observed on the day of the incident. Evidence of a buyer who bought the deceased’s belongings from the accused testified that he saw the particulars of the deceased, including her name, when he opened the laptop,” Nyuswa said.

The witness, who had bought the laptop, told the court he had acquired it from Magagula.

The post-mortem report also showed Nel’s cause of death was as a result of strangulation.

“The court found the evidence of the State witnesses credible, and the accused was found guilty as charged. After he was convicted, he threatened the court orderly by strangling him but managed to escape while on the way to the holding cells. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for premeditated murder and fifteen years for robbery with aggravating circumstances,” said Nyuswa.

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The Director of Public Prosecutions in Mpumalanga, Advocate Nkebe Kanyane welcomed the conviction and sentencing of Magagula.

“She said this demonstrates that as an essential service, the prosecution remains operational and had doubled its efforts to ensure that gender-based violence cases are prioritized and resolved to create a safer community,” said Nyuswa.

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